Cefalù Cathedral
the facade and the portico

The marble portal: an intimate dialogue between complex ornamental aspects and formal structure

The ancient portal, dating back to the second half of the 12th century, is still a fine example of architecture today, although time has compromised the sculptural work by master stone carvers from the Romanesque period. It became part of that vast programme of furnishings aimed at embellishing the Cathedral, both outside and inside its spaces.
The full-centred arch , particularly typical in Sicilian Norman buildings,has an undoubtedly Islamic influence in its plastic composition and arabesques . Its particular curvature seamlessly converges with the decoration, giving free rein to a culture that is now worthy of artistic recognition and devoid of profane characteristics. Various white marble friezes , arranged in a harmonious manner, decorate the door jambs and the archivolt . The Cefalù portal may have originally been preceded by a cusp-shaped prothyrum , with the two merging into a single body due to its rather low dimensions close to the wall.
Over the course of time, because of its typology, it has been compared to the 11th and 12th century Apulian portals, such as the one in the Basilica of San Nicola in Bari . However, the most conforming comparison is with the Monreale portal , which gives us an idea of what it must have looked like in its entirety. In the parts that are still legible, motifs can also be found in the mosaics inside the cathedral and in the capitals of the of cloisters.The presence of projecting elements, including a corbel, gave dynamism to the complex decorative arrangement, which was undoubtedly influenced by the miniature in the transmission of models from northern workshops to southern Europe and across the Mediterranean basin.
Animals crowning other hypothetical architectural elements, plant whorls and beings with sinuous movements, perhaps chameleons, precede the sacred image of the crucified lamb, which is located at the apex of the composition in a loop resembling an almond.
The heterogeneous iconographic programme echoes the more complex Majestas Domini formula of Romanesque and Gothic portals.

The chapel of the crucifix: an artistic casket based on a previous model

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

A palimpsest of history

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The Gualtiero Cathedral

A new Cathedral

The towers and the western facade

The longest aisle

The southern portico

The king’s mark

The links between the hauteville family and the monastic orders in Sicily

The senses tell Context 1

The side aisles

The Cefalù cathedral: a construction yard undergoing a change between a surge of faith and control over the territory

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

A controversial interpretation

The area of the Sanctuary

The cultural substrate through time

Palermo: the happiest city

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

The chapel of St. Benedict

Ecclesia munita

Interior decorations

The plasticism of the main portico and Bonanno Pisano’s Monumental Bronze Door

Roger II’s strategic design

Under the crosses of the Bema

The mosaics of the apses

The balance between architecture and light

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

Survey of the royal tombs

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

Squaring the circle

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

A tree full of life

The original design

The beginning of the construction site

The marble portal: an intimate dialogue between complex ornamental aspects and formal structure

The cemetery of kings

The Great Restoration

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

The side Portico: a combination of elegance and lightness of form

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

A compositional design that combines nordic examples with new artistic languages, over the centuries

The stone bible

The Virgin Hodegetria

A Northern population

The columns of the nave: the meticulous study of the overall order

The decorated facade

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The architectural modifications ti the cathedral building after the death of Roger II and the transformations of the cloister

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The Kings’ Cathedrals

A space between the visible and the invisible

Worship services

The lost chapel

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

Mosaic decoration

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

Biblical themes enlivened by the dazzling light of the stained – glass windows overlooking the naves

Tempus fugit: a strategic project implemented in a short period of time

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

Thirteenth-century iconography decorates the nave’s wooden ceiling, designed with new solutions

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The paradisiacal “Conca d’oro” that embraces Palermo: a name with countless faces through time

From the main gate to the aisles: an invitation to a journey of faith

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

The mosaics of the presbytery

The Chapel of the Kings

The Bible carved in stone

The rediscovered chapel

A remarkable ceiling

Beyond the harmony of proportions

The Cathedral over the centuries

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

Transformations over the centuries

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

The transformations of the hall through the centuries